Environment Tribunal stops Phase 2 of Standard Gauge Railway

Some of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) locomotives during a test run from Nairobi to Mombasa on March 8 this year. [Gideon Maundu, Standard]

Construction of the Sh63 billion Phase Two of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) from Nairobi to Naivasha has been stopped.

National Environment Tribunal ordered the Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC) not to proceed with Phase 2A of the project until it determines whether or not proper environmental assessment on the route was done.

“It is clear when there is an appeal to the tribunal concerning environmental issues, the status quo is maintained until the dispute is determined. Thus, this is to direct that all activities relating to construction of Phase 2A of the SGR be stopped until the appeal is determined,” said the tribunal.

The SGR line was to be constructed from Nairobi South Railway Station to Naivasha Industrial Park located at Enosupukia. The project is being challenged by Kenya Coalition for Wildlife Conservation and Management and activist Okiya Omtatah.

The lobby group argued the National Environmental Management Authority (Nema) irregularly awarded the KRC an environment impact assessment license allowing it to proceed with the project.

It says the licence was hurriedly issued in suspicious circumstances without consulting institutions responsible for wildlife and environment conservation.

“The report the licence is based upon has serious flaws, including being inconsistent with the legal framework governing environment protection. It assumes other agencies will supervise the construction when the contract is exclusively given to a foreign entity,” said the lobby.

They allege Nema deliberately failed to point out lands earmarked for key installations are owned by Kenyatta family and other politically connected individuals, and that the SGR is deliberately being routed through their properties to uplift their values at the expense of other Kenyans. They accused Nema and KRC of failing to allow public participation and ignoring various individuals and the social impact of SGR.

They particularly singled out Nairobi National Park, which they said the licence ignored despite the fact it will scare away wild animals in the park and cause human-wildlife conflict.

“Construction of the SGR through the park is proposed to take 18 months during which time the park will suffer great risk of poachers, disturbance and traffic. There is no proper justification at all to allow the project to proceed,” said the lobby.

They said there was no resettlement plans for those who will be displaced by the railway line.

[email protected]